Expenses You Need to Consider When moving to the US as a Nurse
Taking on the life-changing endeavor to move into the US as a nurse can be equally exciting and overwhelming. From getting requirements and documentation sorted to figuring out how much money you need to bring with you, expenses can add up quickly and leave you in debt before you even begin your first job in the country.
Worry not, though, as we created this guide to help you understand the basic financial situations you need to consider to help make your move less stressful. If you follow these recommendations, moving to the US could be a breeze and be one of the best decisions of your life!
Before you can start computing the amount you need to bring with you, let’s take a look at the important requirements that you need to secure first to get started:
Review Your Hourly Contract Rate Salary
Remember, you are not moving to the US as a nurse for free. Start with setting your expectations in terms of pay and go from there. First, review your contract and assess your hourly contract salary in particular. Cross-check what your employer is offering against the minimum wage for nurses in the area where you will be assigned. You can do this by visiting the Foreign Labor Certification (FLC) Data Center.
If your employer or staffing partner is offering a salary below the minimum wage for your role, you might want to consider renegotiating your contract or looking for another employer. It’s important to note that the cost of living in each state varies, and so does the prevailing minimum wage. That’s why it sets the bar of a living wage for a specific role to live comfortably in a given area.
Second, do not for to have all things in writing. Your employer might persuade you to agree to a lower salary with a promise of increasing it significantly in the coming months. Even though the prospect of eventually higher pay is attractive, it is more important to start earning the right compensation for your labor in the first six months. This is to help you pay back any loans or get your living situation sorted out.
Prepare Your Documentation and Licenses
Make sure all of your requirements are complete, as it’s important to prepare for issues you might encounter once you’ve arrived in the US. Here are the two typical issues that nurses encounter:
- Social Security
Unprocessed social security might prevent you from starting work. It usually takes two to four weeks to get this sorted out. In extreme circumstances, it might even take up to two months. This is an important thing to consider when managing your money during your initial stay in the US.
Various states in the US might require a different registered nurse (RN) license that regulatory boards issue for nurses to practice their profession. You also can’t start work without one. It’s important to address it even way before your arrival since it can take anywhere between one to eight months to clear.
Know What to Expect from Your Employer or Staffing Partner
Before you can formulate a budget, you need a clear understanding and agreement on what to expect from your employer about how they will help you get settled. Find out if they provide housing, medical coverage, transportation, and living allowance for the first few months. This will help you get that added security and peace of mind that you would not be left penniless before getting your first paycheck.
Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) Factors to Consider
The US is known for being one of the most expensive countries to live in, especially when compared with other industrialized nations around the world. Thus, you must not forget to take these expenses into account in managing your budget:
The taxes you will be required to pay will vary depending on the location of your employment and salary rate. You can check out this tax calculator to help give you a general idea of how much these costs.
To live comfortably, you have to be prepared to pay for basic necessities before getting your first paycheck, especially if your chosen staffing partner does not offer these benefits. These include:
- Gas / Transportation
- Additional Documentation or Paperwork
You can check out this cost of living calculator for more information on specifics such as how much food and housing cost in a specific U.S. city.
How to Compute How Much Money You Should Bring to the United States
One popular question from nurses before they apply to work and move into the US as a nurse has to do with how much money they should allocate for this move. Having pocket money for emergencies is also a great approach so that your transition into the new country and a new career is as smooth as possible.
First, find out what you expect to receive in a month. Here’s how to compute for that:
- Monthly Contract Salary (MCS) = hourly contract salary rate x number of work hours in a day x number of workdays in a week x number of workweeks in a month
Even though there are eight-hour shifts, five days a week nursing jobs, the usual work schedule for nurses in the US looks like this:
- 12 hours per day
- 3 days per week
- 4 weeks per month
The budget that will be computed will primarily rely on your MCS. This is because the overall cost of living is taken into consideration in the FLC Data Center’s minimum prevailing wage computation. If your salary meets the FLC’s requirement, then it’s safe to use that as the basis for budgeting your allowance.
Now that we’ve gotten all the basics out of the way, let’s get down to it!
- Moving to the US as a Nurse Alone
This one is pretty straightforward. Ideally, you should bring one month’s worth of your monthly contract salary. To account for taxes, always round it up to the nearest 500.
- Moving to the US as a Nurse with a Family
Basically, you should bring one month’s worth of MCS rounded up to the nearest 500 multiplied by the number of people in your group.
To give you a better picture, here’s a sample.
A Filipino named Pedro is moving to the US as a nurse with an hourly contract salary rate of 23 USD. He will be working in a hospital in Bismarck, North Dakota in Burleigh County where the minimum prevailing wage is 22.91 USD. His work schedule is the typical 12-hour shifts, three times a week, and four weeks a month.
23 USD x 12 (hours) x 3 (days) x 4 (weeks) x = 3, 312 USD (MCS)
3,312 rounded up to the nearest 500 = 3, 500 USD (Budget)
If Pedro is moving alone, he ideally needs to come up with 3, 500 USD as pocket money to bring to the US.
If he’s bringing his wife and 1 kid: 3, 500 USD x 3 people = 10, 500 USD
What if Pedro Does Not Have Money to Spare?
As nice as it is to have sufficient funds to start getting settled in the US right away, not everyone has that luxury. If you cannot come up with the computed budget which can be extremely high if you are moving to states with higher costs of living, bring at least half of that amount. Do not come empty-handed.
Let Expenses Not Get in the Way Between You and Your Dreams
The first six months of your stay in the US are crucial in all aspects of your finances, career, and home life. Be frugal. Do not expect a total lifestyle change. Get a feel of how things are, how to get around, and how much it costs to stay healthy and happy. Lastly, do not be afraid to ask your employer any question! It is their job to address your concerns.
JOIN OUR FAMILY OF NURSES AND START TRANSFORMING LIVES TODAY
We at PRS Global are committed to going the extra mile to turn your dream of moving to the US as a nurse into reality. The nurses we connect with become our family and we take care of ourselves. If you have big dreams but your finances are holding you back, we’ll be more than happy to chat and see what we can do for you.
PRS Global can help you find the best job with incredible working conditions with competitive pay and benefits. We arrange for housing, medical coverage, and transportation. We will ensure that your transition into the American healthcare community will be a smooth ride.
We can’t wait for you to join our family of nurses! Contact us today!